Mom and Tag - Olivia Newport

Photo by Larry Mohr

My mother likes to rub it in my face that she lives in south Florida, especially in the winter. Especially if it’s cold where I live in Colorado. Especially if we’ve had snow.

My mom likes to sit on the lanai (I love that word: lanai) when she talks on the telephone. She has a chaise lounge chair out there, and the breeze is delightful. But one day, in a month that qualifies as winter, she said,

It’s two degrees too cold out there.

And she sat in the living room while we chatted.

What difference do two degrees make? We all have our thresholds, not just for the temperature on the lanai, but for all sorts of stuff. Cranky babies, piles of laundry, doggy piddles in the house, the price of avocados. One moment it’s fine, and the next it’s too much or not enough. How do we respond when we’ve crossed a threshold?

For my mom, moving in the house is a small thing and solves the problem. But even when we face big problems, perhaps small actions can help us back to the side of the threshold where things are all right once again.

• What small ways do you care for yourself?